Congleton's ancient Inn Signs
The following passage is taken from a card entitled "Congleton's Ancient Inn Signs Travested? It includes the names of Congleton's pubs of that time in a rather contrived tale and is thought to have been written in 1932.. The author was said to have been William "Cocky" Davenport who was a landlord of the Duram Ox public house.
" I was driving a Waggon and Horses along the Grove to the Church House to have a bit of Cheshire Cheese (real Old Cheshire Cheese) and a Foaming Quart, when Admiral Vernon rode up on a Black Horse which had a Boar's Head. He had been following the Buck and Hounds with the Hare and Dog all over the Globe, hunting the Black, White and Red Lions, and the White Bear with a Ram's Head, that had killed the Antelope."At that moment, the Lord Nelson, accompanied by Robin Hood and Little John, guided by an Angel, landed from the shores of the Albion into the Forester's Arms, where the Woodman had a Pig and Whistle. He snatched a Forge Hammer out of the Mechanic's Arm's and knocked the Bull's Head off the Durham Ox as it was eating the Wheat Sheaf, and the Ox was afterwards roasted at the Blazing Stump of the Royal Oak.
"The Drum and Monkey hit in the Hole in the Wall - with the Lion and Tun
and the Roebuck - where there was a Throstles' Nest. Then, after tying a
Staffordshire Knot round the Lion and Swan's neck in the light of the Rising
Sun, the Red Cow, wearing Three Horse Shoes, was shot by Robin Hood with his Three Arrows, and, stealing a Star from the Seven Stars, he went to the Lion and Bell and partook of the Grapes growing in the Park Tavern. "The Highland Laddie arrived at the Castle with the Oddfellow's Arms, and threw his Boot at the Bear's Head in the New Inn, but, missing it, knocked The Lamb out of the Farmer's Arms, while the Olde Black Boy clung to The Swan, which flew over the Bridge to the Town Hall. 'Then came a Coach and Horses, and I saw the Queen's Head adorned by a Rose and Crown, and the Prince of Wales in the King's Arms.
"After chasing and making Vaults near the Rood Hill Tavern, which was a
Fair House, the Horse and Jockey were awarded the Borough Arms, by the
King's Head, who made a Halt near the Wharf to adjust the Crown. A man with Four Faces and a Black's Head sat on the Moss near the Railway, with his White Horse, ready to ride with the Moreton Arms, the Shakerley Arms, and the Antrobus Arms, to the Gas Tavern, where George (of the George and Dragon) laid claim to the Golden Lion, which was housed in the Market Tavern".
Only around a 20 of the pubs named above remain in their original use today, but as you can see, there were a lot to begin with.
In 1583 there were 42 alehouses for a population of about 1000.
In 1656 the total was 28.
In 1729 Congleton Inns were noted for their gambling, rowdiness and cruel sports like cock fighting and bear baiting.
In 1763, there were 34 licensed houses for a population of much less than 4,000 people.
In 1828 there were 30 alehouses in the Town centre, one located every few yards!
In 1830 the Beer Act was passed. This brought into being an entirely new tier of drinking establishment - The Beerhouse. A beerhouse was licensed only for six days a week (i.e. not Sundays) for the sale only of beer and cider (not wine and spirits). Beer it should be remembered was at this time very much an everyday drink, even children drank so called small beer. Many beerhouses appeared in the town centre and these often traded only for a short while to be replaced by different ones which also did not last long.
In 1839 there were approximately 50 alehouses and 52 beerhouses.
In 1848 this has risen to 52 alehouses and over 100 beerhouses.
In 1906 the number of alehouses was now 63.
In 1904 the Licensing Act enabled local authorities to close pubs that it considered unnecessary.
There is an excellent book out that details information on Congleton districts public houses called "A Pub Call Through Time" by Mr. Lyndon Murgatroyd. It is now in its second edition as the first was so popular and well received. Mr. Murgatroyd kindly gives all the proceeds from the book to local groups so by buying the book you not only get a cracking read but you also go some way to helping the local community too.
I have seen the second edition of the book “in the Farmers Arms” and there has been many things added to it since the first one, more maps, photos and information.
Mr. Murgatroyd has kindly sent me the cover of the book and allowed me to display it on this site. I hope that as many people as possible purchase this book as the author has done a brilliant job once again.
Congleton's public houses of today
A pub crawl through time
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